One of the things that I'm learning about with RDI is called the "Zone of Proximal Development". In my way to understand it, I think of some circles and the child being in the middle of the circles. The circle surrounding the child is their comfort zone. For autistic children, and for many people I guess, this is where they like to stay. The outermost circle is the area where unproductive frustration occurs. No real learning and development occurs in this circle. In between the frustration zone and the comfort zone is the "Zone of Proximal Development". This is where you take the child, just stretching slightly beyond their comfort and confidence level. Working in this zone ensures learning and development are taking place, with a minimum of frustration.
So in my planning, especially for Austin (who has such a low frustration tolerance), I am looking for the Zone. :) In my efforts to try to get him 'caught up', I frequently push outside the Zone into the frustration level. Being an "Explosive Child" http://www.amazon.com/Explosive-Child-Understanding-Frustrated-Chronically/dp/006077939X cannot enter this zone and come out of it easily. Entering this frustration area will lead to a meltdown/explosion. I HAVE to change how I think about his frustration, and especially how it relates to his schooling. I know, and have much evidence with him to back this up, that when he feels competent, he goes about his school work with enthusiasm and learns so much!
So this year's theme will be "Stay in the Zone".
Coming soon: my list of curricula that will help us work in the Zone.
I hope. :)